Failure and success

Elizabeth Hersh is Senior Rabbi at Temple Emanuel (TE), and a blogger on the Jewish Light’s website (   Joel Iskiwitch and John DeMott, authors of the  “What can you do?”  sidebar, are congregants at TE.

By Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh

We have just left Cooperstown, New York where we spent several hours at the Baseball Hall of Fame. Perhaps my favorite part of the exhibits was the computerized scouting reports of famous players. Did you know that the report on our beloved Ozzy Smith was that it was doubtful he would play for an entire year? WRONG!

There were many reports of the like where the scouts gave less than enthusiastic words of encouragement. This is in such contrast with how we treat the youth of today where everyone wins and receives a much coveted and expected trophy.

As I began this blog my intention was to discuss how we underestimate people. There must be some balance between that and a fear to offer constructive criticism or to say “you lost.” How often do we underestimate people and their abilities sending them off to defeat and obscurity? And how often do we set up people for an unrealistic goal? Is it always alright to try?

Judaism has always resounded for me as a religion of truth and balance. We allow for a “white lie” to a bride on her wedding day but we also seek truth in our lives. As we approach the High Holidays we are reminded through the acts of teshuvah, repentance, that the majority of us are not wholly good or bad. We are somewhere in the middle.

Perhaps we need a better sense of what IS failure and what IS success? Only we can answer that question. And maybe the road goes through Cooperstown.